Aims and Objectives
What is biological control of weeds?
Biological weed control is the deliberate use of endemic or introduced organisms (primarily phytophagous arthropods, nematodes and plant pathogens) for the regulation of target weed populations.
It aims to reduce weed density to economic and ecologically acceptable levels.
This goal is achieved by:
- Genecological studies of target weed populations;
- The investigation of potential control organisms associated with target weed species;
- Genecological and life history studies of potential control organisms, including virulence tests of pathogens (injury type and level produced per unit of pathogen) and efficacy of arthropods, together with detailed screening of their host range;
- Development of application strategies such as augmentation of endemic organisms, the release of introduced control agents and the use of plant pathogens as biocides.
Areas not covered
The terms 'natural' or biological control are often taken to mean all non-chemical means of pest control. In weed control they have been used for displacement planting, grazing management, crop rotation, breeding for genetic resistance, allelopathy, natural plant products as herbicides etc. Although these areas of research are not the subject of the group's activities, co-operation with workers in these fields will be necessary to integrate our activities into other pest control measures: we have made some progress in this direction, for example the joint session on biocontrol, physical control and allelopathy in the 2002 EWRS symposium.
Objectives of the working group
- To facilitate research in weed biological control by promoting the exchange of information between researchers in Europe;
- To inform group members about newly emerging possibilities for weed biological control, industrial expertise, possibilities for co-operation and potential sources for financial support;
- To develop close contacts with biological weed control groups outside Europe, e.g. the International Bioherbicide Group (http://ibg.ba.cnr.it);
- To propose and initiate joint projects and research programmes on the European scale to promote the integration of weed biocontrol into existing pest control measures and to develop new control strategies;
- To develop and further close links with production managers in agriculture and forestry, plant protection personnel, range management specialists, conservation biologists etc.
- To promote the integration of weed biological control into existing pest control measures, and to develop jointly new control strategies;
- Assist and co-operate in developing national legislation and regulations for biological weed control.
The working group was formed in 1984 and its main activity since then has been to hold biennial workshops lasting about two days on the biological control of weeds. These have been informal and convivial occasions which have given workers in this field, who are scattered throughout Europe a chance to meet and exchange ideas and information. The working group has also hosted sessions in the last two EWRS Symposia.